Watering plants can be a tedious chore. Dealing with kinks in hoses, water spraying the house, forgetting to turn the spigot off, watching your plants turn brown and die, and refilling watering cans can be a headache.
Inefficient watering is also hard on the wallet, the landscape, and your plant’s health. By using irrigation professionals, watering plants can be simple and your landscaping investments will be protected.
Every plant needs water to survive. Irrigation involves watering plants by artificial means. It’s tricky to master, but proper irrigation is the reason that plants stay healthy. The majority of plant problems come from watering too much or too little. Efficient watering helps conserve water and keeps plants alive. Plus, it saves time and money.
Even though we may not realize it, irrigation is everywhere – gardens, residential homes, golf courses, farms, botanical gardens, and greenhouses. Irrigation specialists understand the watering requirements for each plant.
The first step of an irrigation job is to meet with clients. This gives the irrigation professional a chance to see the location, the size, the soil, and what plants need watering. Clients help irrigation professionals understand what needs to be done. Do they want a system to water delicate flowers or do they want to make sure their grass gets watered while they go on vacation?
Some businesses and communities even want irrigation systems to keep vagrants away! The client’s needs are why every irrigation job is unique.
After the client meeting, an irrigation designer will develop specific plans for the client using design software like CAD. The plans will layout the type of irrigation system – sprinklers, oscillating sprinklers, rain guns, underground sprinklers, or drip sprinklers. It also determines the water source. Will it come from the home or does it need to be diverted from a stream or underground aquifer? Water rights are always an issue. The design must take into account the geography to ensure proper drainage. The final product is a properly engineered irrigation machine.
Next an irrigation technician visits the site to install the irrigation system. He uses the design to run any piping above or below ground, establishes irrigation zones, mounts control equipment, and installs any pumps, suction, or sprinklers that are needed. After hooking the irrigation system up to the water source, he determines water pressures and flow rates, which is dictated by types of plants and soil.
Soil plays a major role in irrigation. Different types of soils soak up water at different speeds, which effects run-off and water conservation. Improper techniques result in billions of gallons of water wasted every year. The plants also dictate the watering amount. Different plants have different needs. Proper watering allows for strong roots that make the plant healthier and more drought resistant.
Once the irrigation system is installed, it must be maintained. Sprinkler heads break, water flows must be monitored, pipes freeze, and settings change. As long as clients follow the irrigation technician’s advice, they will be surrounded by healthy green plants. Many clients don’t listen, and this keeps irrigation professionals busy.
Attending school for horticulture, landscaping, or design is a good idea for this career. Many professionals learn on the job. The Irrigation Association offers certifications in the following niches – irrigation contractors, irrigation designers, landscape irrigation auditors, golf irrigation auditors, landscape water managers, or agricultural irrigation specialists. Certification adds credibility, increases job opportunities, and shows commitment to excellence.
Irrigation jobs are available with lawn services and irrigation companies. There are also many jobs in the irrigation equipment manufacturing and supply side of the industry. As an irrigation specialist you can start at $12 to $20 per hour, but some professionals can make up to $130,000 per year. Irrigation jobs can be found all over the world.
If designing, constructing, installing, and playing with water sounds like fun, it’s time to consider a career move to an irrigation job. You’ll love it and the plants will thank you.
Quick Facts About Irrigation Work
Job Title: Irrigation Specialist, Irrigation Technician
Description: Installs watering systems to water plants
Employers: Irrigation Companies, Landscaping Firms.
Pay: $12 to $20 per hour, $21,000 to $130,000 per year.